P01
Trauma subjectivities - the experience and imaginaries of suffering in the 21st century

Convenors:
Julia Vorhoelter (Goettingen University)
Kenneth Finis (Macquarie University)
Location:
A4-004
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

This panel seeks to bring together recent anthropological research on trauma, its experience and interpretation. It is specifically interested in how the notion of trauma is deployed or rejected in different regions and by different actors, and how it shapes individual and collective subjectivities.

Long abstract:

Trauma has become an almost omnipresent way of expressing and imagining suffering across the globe (Fassin & Rechtman 2009). Whereas concepts like trauma and PTSD were initially associated with western psychology and psychiatry, they have now spread to many other contexts and are being deployed, appropriated, or resisted, by a range of actors and for different purposes: humanitarian organisations implement 'trauma interventions', aiming to rebuild and heal whole societies after war or disaster; minorities or indigenous communities point to experiences of historical or intergenerational trauma, drawing attention to the continued presence of supposedly 'past' events; and individuals use the notion of trauma to express personal distress or uncertainty about contemporary human conditions. Trauma has become a political as much a medical concept that shapes individual and collective subjectivities. Although it is a particular frame for remembering the past, the omnipresence of trauma tells us a lot about the state of the world in the 21st century. Since Young's (1995) groundbreaking critical work on 'the invention' of PTSD, anthropology has contributed important ethnographic insight to the ongoing debate. It is no longer sufficient to simply criticize trauma as a 'western' export; it has become a 'reality' in many parts of the world as people (re)interpret and (re)experience suffering through its framework. This panel brings together recent anthropological research on experiences and interpretations of trauma. It is interested in how the notion of trauma is deployed (or rejected) in different regions by different actors, and how it shapes individual and collective subjectivities.